Charlotte Henderson, Wave Hill’s High School Programs Coordinator, helps administer the Forest Project and Woodland Ecology Research Mentorship (WERM) that Wave Hill offers for teens.
Nothing brings together friends like food and shared experiences. Last month, WERM students and their families convened in the Ecology Building to celebrate the second annual Family Holiday Potluck. In addition, Forest Project interns from the summer of 2014 came together at the annual Forest Project reunion potluck earlier this month. Both events involved a bounteous display of culinary delicacies and a tour of interns’ worksites in Wave Hill’s Herbert and Hyonja Abrons Woodland.
Only in its second year, the WERM potluck was a great success. The students’ siblings were very much in attendance in the Ecology building; one particular toddler was infatuated with the bowling alley and would not let anything stop him from playing with the foam bowling set. It was great to get to spend time with all the WERM families. One highlight was the surprise appearance of much-loved WERM Crew Leader Jessica. It was the WERMs first time seeing her since the summer and she was greeted with smiles and a group hug!
Inspired by WERM intern Ifeanyi’s bold yet misinformed statement, “Taco Bell has the best tacos,” fellow WERM Josue decided to bring some of the best home-made mini tacos ever tasted with homemade salsa. Ifeanyi was unavailable to comment on his earlier statement as his mouth was full of the best tacos he’d ever had. Other culinary highlights included spicy rice and chicken, pumpkin cupcakes, a great pasta dish, a refreshing salad, apple tartlets, date bread, brownies and pulled pork. Everyone’s plates were loaded.
After the meal, students led their families on a walk through the woodlands and presented the sites they worked on over the summer. Along the way, WERMs showed off their stuff by identifying different plants, shared their favorite spots—including a favorite tree, the yellowwood—and presented the garlic mustard for which they have spent so much time collecting data. Their families asked myriad questions and the WERMs were very proud to teach their parents and siblings. It was a wonderful event.
Two weekends later, the Forest Project interns of 2014 convened for the Annual Forest Project Reunion Potluck. It was the best attended reunion yet! Interns brought the most amazing dishes from a variety of cuisines, illustrating the great diversity that makes up the Forest Project. Some of the all-star dishes were empanadas, latkes, pumpkin ravioli, lasagna with a Latin twist (olives), macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, bacon and cheese bread, fried rice, chips and homemade guacamole, chocolate cake, red velvet cake (with real cream cheese icing), cookies, flan, Russian cookies, banana bread and a bunch of other delicacies. We felt like kings and queens at a banquet.
Interns and crew leaders alike were able to catch up with each other, sharing both accomplishments and frustrations they have experienced since the summer. The close-knit bonds between Forest Project interns is truly heartening.
Afterwards, a snow walk through the woodlands was in order. Interns were excited to be back and marveled at the difference between this half-mile stretch in summer and now, in winter. Upon reaching the gazebo, interns engaged in a game of Mafia, a Forest Project favorite. Unfortunately, the mafia won this one, but nothing could bring down the spirits of the group, brought together in the woodlands they love.
It was a great season of potlucks and reuniting and a great way to start off 2015!